Too Tired to Turn Pages? Try These Online Early Literacy Tools!

By Sarah S. RSS Tue, August 30, 2016

The life of a children’s librarian is so interesting. We get to meet so many amazing parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who bring their children to our library for storytimes and to pick out great books together. When we are lucky, we get to see little ones grow from babies to toddlers, then see them go off to Kindergarten. Lots of us have stories of running into our “storytime kids” in the grocery store or a museum, and we are always so excited to see how they have grown as people and as readers. (The kids, too, are shocked that we have lives outside of the library!)

I’m now friends with one of my old storytime parents on Facebook and of course I love seeing pictures of her awesome kids, getting taller and going off to school. She knows me well enough to know that when she talks about her kids on Facebook, I’ll probably chime in with a book suggestion—I can’t help myself. Getting a haircut? How about Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman? Going on a plane trip? The Airport Book by Lisa Brown is great. Want some fun math games? Try Bedtime Math! First day of school? Try First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.

So when she mentioned that she was looking for a little help at bedtime, I couldn’t restrain myself. As much as she loves reading to the little ones and knows that early literacy is really about the interaction between grownups and kids, sometimes a caregiver is just too darn tired to read. So I came up with a few great online resources for picture books—both online stories and suggestions for more books. Here are three of my favorites.

TumbleBooks is an online collection of animated, talking picture books that teach kids the joy of reading in a format they'll love. Pick from award winners, nonfiction, fairy tales, or one of your favorite authors. They even have The Paper Bag Princess! Create a playlist just for bedtime stories or funny books, to revisit or to start up when you need a few minutes to yourself.

Reading Rainbow
Everyone loves Levar Burton, right? Well, he has really stepped up Reading Rainbow for the 21st century. You can purchase Skybrary, a curated set of children’s books, animations, and videos, but you can also watch videos of the classic Reading Rainbow television show from when we were kids, along with narrated stories.

CLEL StoryBlocks
A project of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, this is a series of videos with rhymes and songs for babies and toddlers, available in English, Spanish, Amharic, Arabic, and Vietnamese. So cool!

Again, it's good to remember that the interaction between an adult and a child is the most important thing. Technology can be a great tool for fun, educational activities. Be there with your kids as they watch a video or play a game. Talk about what you’re doing and how it connects to their real lives. Use them wisely and sparingly!

And of course, the Free Library of Philadelphia website has lots of great suggestions for parents and caregivers. Check out our Kids’ portal for resources including our Digital Learning Portal, Overdrive Kid's eReading Room, Homework Help Online, LEAP Programing, storytimes, and other fun-filled events.

Do you use any other great online resources with your young children? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Just to add a bit more to the conversation, an article came out in today's Inquirer about how kids interact with apps and e-resources. Check it out:
Sarah S
Wednesday, August 31, 2016